Multiple Meaning Words

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Students will discuss the meanings of multiple-meaning words and phrases.

Big Idea

This lesson helps students to USE words for all they're worth!

Why This Lesson?

1 minutes

Multiple meaning words may not seem like a kindergarten skill; however, it is imperative that we teach our students about these "tricky" words!  The CCSS recognizes the importance of this component of vocabulary acquisition and requires kindergarteners to determine and clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple meaning words and phrases.

Students tend to experience difficulty comprehending words that have multiple meanings in the early grades (this is especially true for ESL students).  In order for students to infer meaning about such words, they must know that there are different uses.  So, it is our job to teach them this!

Introduction to Students

15 minutes

This is an introductory lesson that will be done in the whole group setting.  Students will be seated on the carpet in front of me and I will be guiding them through the instruction.

"Today, we are going to learn about some words that I like to call, "tricky words."  These words are ones that we can read in two different ways.  We say that words like this have multiple meanings.  If a word, or phrase, can mean more than one thing, it has multiple meanings.  Can you say multiple meanings?"
(Students will say, "multiple meanings.")
"Yes.  Good!  So, today, we will talk about words that have multiple meanings.  Then, we will take time to look at one specific example.  So, let's get talking.  Words with multiple meanings are important for us because they can indeed trick us if we aren't paying attention.  We have to really know the different meanings of the word to know which one to use.  And, lots of times, the meaning of the "tricky word" is told to us by the other words around it.  So, as often as we can, we are going to talk about these multiple meaning words and decide which meaning they should have.  We will try this in a moment and you will see how much fun it is to decide the meaning of one of these "tricky words."  But for now, I want you to remember: some words have more than one meaning.  Repeat that."
(Students will say, "Some words have more than one meaning.")
"Yes.  And when words can mean more than one thing, we say that the word has multiple meanings.  And that is what we are going to dive into."

(In the next portion of the lesson, I will use wait time strategically.  Here is a little information about wait time and how I use it in my classroom)

*(For my example here, I will use the word fly.  It is an easy word and our Kindergarteners already know both meanings of this word, so it is a great one to use for the introduction to this skill.

"I would like for you to do something for me.  I would like for you to close your eyes.  I want you to create in your mind... orange..." (Give proper wait time.)  "Now, open your eyes.  Who pictured a color?" (Students will raise their hands.)  "Who pictured a piece of fruit?" (Students will raise their hands.)  "Well... see... some of us saw a color while others of us saw fruit... Who was right?"  (Give proper wait time.) "We all are right!  We are all right because the word orange is a multiple meaning word.  Repeat that."
(Students will say, "The word orange is a multiple meaning word.")
"Yes.  Orange has more than one meaning.  The word orange means a color AND it also means a kind of fruit.  Orange can be two things.  That is why it's a multiple meaning word!  Does everyone understand?"
(Look for nods and confused looks.)
"You see, orange is a color.  My shirt is orange.  But an orange is ALSO a fruit.  I love to eat oranges in the cafeteria.  Since it can be two things, orange is a multiple meaning word.  Cool, huh?"
(Students will think this is interesting.)

"If you can think of another multiple meaning word, give me thumbs up!"
I will allow some students to answer aloud.  I will congratulate correct answers and will re-direct and correct incorrect answers.  It is important to guide students in the right direction here so they will have the best set of examples to draw from.
After students have given examples and I have discussed them aloud, I will allow students to use their new knowledge of this skill with a story.

"Today, we are going to read a story that has a multiple meaning word in it."
(Set purpose here:) "I want you to listen to all of the words.  If you think you may hear one with multiple meanings, give me thumbs up.  We will discuss this once we are done reading.  So, let's listen to this story."

(Here, I read There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. I read this story because it is always somehow familiar and because a student typically guesses the multiple meaning word.)

I will say that fly is our word from that story.  "Fly is the multiple meaning word; you are right.  A fly is an insect.... But, to fly is to go through the air.  The same word, fly, means two different things.  Now, we are going to go back to our seats and break down this word, fly!"

"Today, we are going to read a story that has a multiple meaning word in it."
(Set purpose here:) "I want you to listen to all of the words.  If you think you may hear one with multiple meanings, give me thumbs up.  We will discuss this once we are done reading.  So, let's listen to this story."

Now is when I have students use the sheet to fill out for multiple meaning words.
Here is an example of how to use this multiple meaning words sheet.


15 minutes

I pass the sheet to fill out for multiple meaning words to each student, independently and send them back to their seats.  Then, we go through the word at the top- the multiple meaning word.  Then, I go through the two meanings.  I guide them through this by talking about the different meanings.  After that, they will complete the page with illustrations that match each meaning.  At the end, I have them discuss the word in a small group, using each meaning.  I use this practice as an informal assessment.

One word- two meanings- one sheet- talk- assess- move on = background knowledge and likelihood of raised comprehension... It's pretty easy!  And it's cool, too!I like to find at least one multiple meaning word to use our sheet with per week.  I like to do this practice as either an opening activity or a closing activity for the main story selection.

It is important to connect your multiple meaning words to a story.  Students always understand this concept better if they can really connect to one of the meanings you are talking about. 
For example, if I am discussing the word fall, I make sure I am either reading/talking about tripping OR the season-- before I make them aware of the other meaning.

As time goes by, I begin guiding students through the process of reading the other words around that one (or looking at the pictures) to help them decide what it means.  I love to make anchor charts and hang them around the room. 
Here is an explanation of how to work with multiple meaning words on this anchor chart.

By the end of the year, I expect students to be able to do this process on their own. 

I like to make a notebook with ALL of the multiple meaning words in it.  I keep my pages (attached) in folders on my students' tables and send home booklets with all of them (from each week) in the winter and the spring.  They really love these words, because they are "tricky," and they love to go back and refer to the pages detailing both meanings!

Extending this Lesson

10 minutes

I love to add multiple meaning words into practice as often as possible.  Here are some words I like to use:
bark   bit   bat   bolt   bowl   foot   gum   file   fly   hard   hit   last   left  
jam   hide   check   box   club   can   clip   stamp   shake   sink   star   seal

I also love to teach students about multiple meaning phrases when they fit into our curriculum.  Here is a worksheet to use with multiple meaning phrases (that looks exactly like the multiple meaning words page, to show the connection).

Finally, if students forget exactly how this works (which really could happen after our winter break), I will give them a refresher lesson with this helpful Multiple Meaning Words PowerPoint using Max Found Two Sticks.